The First Miracle Year in Braves Baseball

We all remember some of those exciting “miracle seasons” of the Atlanta Braves beginning in the 1990s. The first “miracle season,” however, for the oldest professional baseball team still in existence came about 100 years ago in 1914.
At that time, they were the Boston Braves and one of the worst teams playing during the early months of the season. The team had come to Atlanta in the pre-season to play the Atlanta Crackers and had no trouble winning those exhibition games. The regular season was a different story altogether.

 

Led by Georgia-born coach George Stallings, the Braves were in last place in the National League by the July midseason mark. In a stunning run of victories, Stallings took the team from last to first in just six weeks. After winning the pennant, however, they faced the Philadelphia Athletics headed by legendary coach Connie Mack. The “Mackmen” had won three out of the last four World Series. With a stable of famed players and a reputed “$100,000 infield,” the Athletics were heavy favorites.

 

The Braves took the first two games of the series in Philadelphia and returned to Fenway Park and a euphoric Boston. Shocking everyone, they won the second two games and swept the World Series, something that had never been done in the 10-year history of the contest. As one writer of the time commented, the Braves “emerged late-to-date champions of the world, leaving a trail of startling sur-prises and upsets in their wake which it will be hard to duplicate.”

 

The bad part of winning the 1914 World Series in four straight was that players, owners and coaches were only paid a percentage of the gate receipts for their efforts. Total receipts for the four games was $226,739 and the players’ portion of that was $121,900. The Braves got 60 percent or $73,140. Divided equally, each “Miracle Brave” received $2,813, about $56,000 in modern dollars.

 

Much of the credit for the miracle season went to George Stallings who was born in Augusta, Geor-gia in 1867. After a few years as a lackluster player, he moved on to coaching and slowly moved up to the major leagues. He lived in Jones County Georgia for the last 30 years of his life and brought most of his teams to Georgia in the pre-season which accounts for their games against the Crackers in 1914. Other than the miracle season with the Braves, Stallings was not an exceptionally successful coach. He retired in 1920 and died in 1929 as the owner of the Montreal Royals of the International League. He is buried in Macon, Georgia.

 

Dick Funderburke